Islamic summit urges dialogue on Syria transition

Thu Feb 7, 2013 12:14pm EST
 
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By Yasmine Saleh

CAIRO (Reuters) - Leaders of Muslim nations called on Thursday for a "serious dialogue" between Syria's government and an opposition coalition on a political transition to end nearly two years of civil war, but pinned most of the blame for the bloodshed on the state.

A two-day summit of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation backed an initiative by Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia to broker negotiations to stop the fighting in which at least 60,000 people have died.

"We all agreed on the necessity to intensify work to put an end to the tragedies which the sisterly Syrian people are living through," Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi told the closing ceremony.

The final communique, issued hours after the summit ended because of last-minute wrangling over the wording, said President Bashar al-Assad's government was most to blame.

"We stress that the primary responsibility is on the Syrian government for the continuation of violence and destruction of property, and we express our deep concern at the deterioration of conditions and the spread of killings that led to the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians and the Syrian authorities' commission of massacres in cities and villages," it said.

The statement made no mention of Assad but called for talks between the opposition Syrian National Coalition and "representatives of the Syrian government who are committed to the political transformation of Syria and those who have not been involved directly in any form of oppression".

It also urged all other opposition groups to join the SNC.

SNC leader Moaz Alkhatib made a surprise offer last weekend of talks with Assad's ceremonial deputy, Farouq al-Shara, on a transition that would guarantee Assad safe passage into exile.   Continued...

 
Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi (C) attends a meeting with Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after the opening of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Cairo February 6, 2013. REUTERS/Egyptian Presidency/Handout